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The Boston Globe


Stalled Sandy aid infuriates Northeastern Republicans

US Representatives Peter King, right, and Michael Grimm, both Republicans from New York, spoke to media after meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to discuss the relief fund hold up in Congress for Hurricane Sandy victims Wednesday.

Gary Cameron/REUTERS

US Representatives Peter King, right, and Michael Grimm, both Republicans from New York, spoke to media after meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to discuss the relief fund hold up in Congress for Hurricane Sandy victims Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — Northeastern Republicans, long outnumbered and overshadowed in their own party nationally, erupted in fury on Wednesday after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives blocked a measure that sought to provide billions of dollars in aid to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other states pummeled by Hurricane Sandy.

The depth of the anger was extraordinary and exceedingly personal, with one Republican after another venting their outrage at one man in particular, Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, who quietly moved to keep the bill from coming to the floor early Wednesday morning after a raucous marathon session on fiscal issues.

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Representative Michael G. Grimm, a Republican whose Staten Island district was among the hardest hit, threatened not to vote for Boehner in the election for speaker this week. Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican whose constituents also suffered huge losses in the storm, urged New York’s well-heeled donor community not to contribute to Boehner’s Republican majority.

The anger that surfaced Wednesday seemed to come as a bit of a shock to Boehner, who quickly sought to contain any political fallout. After meeting with Republican lawmakers from the storm-battered region, Boehner pledged to bring a $9 billion relief package to the floor on Friday and a $51 billion package on Jan 15.

‘‘Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress,’’ Boehner said in a statement that he released with Representative Eric Cantor, the Republican majority leader in the House. ‘‘That was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations.’’

But it was unclear whether Boehner could undo the damage he had done.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a potential Republican presidential contender in 2016, said Boehner had refused to take his calls on Tuesday night and accused the House leadership of duplicity and selfishness, saying the inaction ‘‘is why the American people hate Congress.’’

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After finally getting through to Boehner on Wednesday morning, Christie expressed doubt in the speaker’s word in his characteristically blunt way.

‘‘I’m not going to get into the specifics of what I discussed with John Boehner today,’’ he told reporters in New Jersey. ‘‘But what I will tell you is there is no reason at the moment for me to believe anything they tell me.’’

King later struck a more conciliatory note. ‘‘This procedure that is laid out is fully acceptable’’ he said, reacting to the schedule presented by Boehner. ‘‘Fact is, we are getting what New York and New Jersey needs.’’

Grimm seemed mollified as well, saying he would support the speaker after all.

As much as the outcry spoke of the extraordinary dissension within the Republican ranks, it also underscored another political reality: the relative lack of clout that Northeastern states like New York have in the House of Representatives, a chamber dominated by conservatives from the South and Midwest.

Last week, a $60.4 billion aid package was passed in the Democratic-led Senate, far friendlier political terrain for the region, where Charles E. Schumer, New York’s senior senator, is part of the leadership and helped push the package through. Top House Republicans had indicated that they were moving toward a vote on the package Tuesday night.

But Boehner had angered many leading conservatives in his caucus by bringing to the floor a Senate-approved tax bill that did not contain sufficient spending cuts to bring the nation’s debt under control. After that bill passed in the House, with significant Democratic support, he was in no mood to further alienate conservatives in his caucus by forcing them to vote on a disaster aid bill that would add to the deficit on the eve of a vote on whether to continue his speakership.

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, suggested that the aid request was harmed by its size.

“Sometimes when you ask for too much, you don’t get anything,’’ Blunt told CNN.

As the anger over the House’s decision not to hold a vote on the storm aid measure intensified, President Obama called Christie and Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York on Wednesday and issued a statement calling for an immediate vote in the House.

“When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need,’’ Obama said.

Cuomo told reporters Wednesday that House Republicans had ‘‘reneged on their word.’’

‘‘I believe it was a dereliction of duty,’’ Cuomo said. ‘‘To leave New York and New Jersey and thousands of people in this holiday season on their own and abandoned was wrong, and disgraceful in a lot of ways.’’

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